What is No Shave November? The Goal

  
Day 1 – No Shave Yoga Event – #yogabeardsunite – What is No Shave November? The Goal

The goal of No Shave November & Movember is to grow awareness about men’s health and cancer by embracing our hair, which many cancer patients lose, and letting it grow wild and free. We encourage you to donate the money you typically spend on shaving and grooming to aid organizations that help educate about cancer prevention and provide assistance to those diagnosed with cancer. You can help save lives and aid those fighting the battle.

No Shave Yoga Event is a group of yoga teachers who have banded together to help spread the word, grow hairy, raise money and inspire health through the practice of yoga. Our fundraising team is called Yoga Beards Unite and we aim to raise at least $1500 by the end of November. Please help us achieve our goal by donating to our team page at https://www.no-shave.org/team/yogabeardsunite. When you post on social media please tag us to show your support and share our your story to help us in our endeavor. Together we can make a difference! @adampolhemusyoga @brianmilleryoga @davidmiliotis @gregnardi @juankgalan @nativeyoga @willduprey

Mysore, Kirtan and Friends

Today is one of those days that I can’t help but share my excitement about. I set the alarm for 4am and made my way from home to the shala for an early morning practice. Upon returning to Florida several weeks ago from the 3rd series training with Tim out in Encinitas I have been feeling so inspired. Tim and the attendant trainees infused me with a sense of total of verve that that has motivated me to experiment with parts of 3rd I had not yet before. There is something about the series that is so completely physically challenging and yet altogether invigorating. Also, It is really fun to experiment when I am on my own or just a few friends practicing nearby knowing that there is no judgement based on performance capabilities.   
I was winding things down with the shoulder stand sequence and while balled up in Pindasana (a shoulder stand with the legs in lotus folded down against the chest and the arms wrapped around so that we mimic the fetus in the head down position) our good friend and student Carole came in for a surprise visit. She hit a couple of the wrong switches and the whole room lit up with fluorescent lighting and we had a good laugh at the grand entry. Carole started practicing with us 9 years ago here and we would both get to the shala very early in the morning and practice together regularly since then. She has moved up the D.C. area and I have missed her energy so much. It is really great to develop a friendship through repeated years of practicing silently next to someone. You really get to know the person and you develop a bond that goes beyond words. It felt like my morning started off with the right combination of positive vibes to help me find that zest that comes with stoked practice.

I suppose some momentum was created and to top it off Greg Nardi came to practice Mysore this morning with us which was just such a nice treat. Greg is getting ready to offer some workshops this Friday and Saturday here at Native Yoga Center. When we scheduled this event Greg had the idea of combining forces and offering a Kirtan. We both agreed and then realized that some practice would be a good idea before hand. 🙂 One thing that really inspires the Mysore room is the combined enthusiasm of the practitioners that show up. The teacher just gives a little assistance but really the practice and the sweat that comes from the practice is the real “bread and butter” so to speak. I thoroughly love the Ashtanga routines and all the elements of the “limbs” that make it up.
  
Greg and I had a chance to iron out which songs to sing and and get some practice in before this weekend. Enclosed is a short video from our practice session today. If you are in the South Florida area we hope you can make it. Greg enjoys teaching a well rounded approach to Ashtanga Yoga and his insights will encourage you.

Friday, September 25th he is offering a workshops titled:
Forward bends, Hips, and Knees 5:30pm – 7:30pm Paschimattanasana, or west stretching pose, describes forward bending as a means of opening the subtle channels on the posterior surface of the body.  In this workshop, we will look at the three symmetrical forward bends, or paschimattanasana poses in the beginning of primary series to help us understand the fundamentals of hip and spinal flexion.  We will then build on this foundation to look at asymmetrical forward bends and what they teach us about proper use of the hips and knees so that we can safely move towards advanced forward bending asanas.

Kirtan and Mantra with Greg Nardi and Todd McLaughlin 7:30pm – 8:30pm

On Saturday, September 26th he will offer two workshops:

Backbends 12:00pm – 2:30pm Explore the fine art of backbending.  We will work through a progressively challenging series of backbends that will educate you about the finer points of spinal extension.  Learn how to distribute energy through the entire body during your backbends to avoid overloading the lower back. If you are challenged by the process of deepening your backbends, or are just beginning to explore advanced backbending, this workshop is not to be missed.

Yoga Beyond Asana 4:00pm – 6:30pm This workshop will explore concepts from the Upanishads that shape the eastern worldview.  This paradigm is the contextual framework out of which yoga is born.  As a modern yoga practitioner, you will be able to fit contemporary yoga practice into an ancient wisdom tradition.  We will explore yogic theories and concepts such as conditioned living, the causes of suffering, the means of liberation, and the purpose of life.  Come with an open mind, and you will leave inspired.

All details and registration are available at www.nativeyogacenter.com

A Day of Rest and Reflection

  
Today is Saturday and our day of rest from asana practice. One thing that I really love about the Ashtanga method is that it is recommended to take at least one day off per week and to not practice on the new or full moon. Sometimes people can get obsessed with the asana practice and perhaps if this rule was not in place some people would hammer out an intense practice every single day. Personally that would not be an issue for me. The fact that there is a prescribed 6 day a week practice schedule is something that takes a lot of time to really cultivate and maintain. I also think that no practice on moon days, the new and full moon, is the best invention since sliced bread. I adhere to the Saturday off idea mainly because that is what I learned from Guruji and Tim, but it is good to note that you can make that day any day you choose. Yet still the 6 days, “you do!”
When Tamara and I went to Mysore we asked the assistance of someone to help us find a room to rent while we were there. The gentle Indian man said “I can’t help you tomorrow because it is moon day, yet the following day I can.” In this case he was not an “asana” practitioner (I don’t think) but he took moon days off from work anyhow. This blew our mind. We had never come across this concept before. When we were practicing Bikram yoga never once was this notion mentioned, nor was there any talk of breathing either but that is an entirely different story. I have to admit that right away I thought that moon days were a brilliant concept regardless that it was a foreign idea. Now as a 6 day a week practitioner (as best I can as a family man), I think moon days are incredible. Now every two weeks, you get a day to rest your body as well as the Saturday. I think that the element of the fixed day off one day per week, combined with the extra two moon days off on alternating intervals, creates a variation of change within a consistent structure. 
If you don’t adhere to this rule you probably are thinking, “Todd is getting a little out there.” I promise though that if you try this it will seem like the most remarkable concept ever created. That is little background story of why then, today we took the morning off to rest. We had Teacher Training session today from 1 PM to 6 PM yet Tim still honored this tradition by giving us a five hour tour of the third chapter of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. It was remarkable as those of you who have met Tim can imagine. In his First and Second Series Teacher Trainings he covers the first and second chapters of the Yoga Sutras. So this was the first time I have had the privilege of having him go sutra by sutra and take the time to allow us to share our thoughts about what they could potentially mean. Reading the Yoga Sutras can be a lifetime of study because they are challenging to decipher. The Sanskrit language allows multiple translations for every word so that over the years many translators have given different meanings for each sutra. There is usually a fairly common thread amongst most meanings, non the less, they can be quite confusing to contemplate at first glance. That is what it is so interesting to have someone who has been contemplating this over for some thirty years to give their take on their meaning. Since meeting Tim and having been inspired to try this myself. I have enjoyed this process even though sometimes it just seems so perplexing. The cool thing is that the theory informs the practice and the practice informs the theory. How I viewed the Yoga Sutras and their interpretations has changed radically over the years. As I learn a new concept from them I try to apply it to my yoga and meditation practice. As my yoga and meditation practice evolves my understanding of the meaning behind the words also transforms. 
We covered a lot today yet there was one that I particularly enjoyed. Sutra III.27 states Bhuvana jnanam surye samyamat. It can be translated as: By samyama on the Sun comes knowledge of the entire universe. The word samyama means the “catch-all” process of concentration, meditation and absorption (dharana, dhyana and samadhi). Tim stated, “The sun is the eye of the world. If we become one with the eye of the world we can see all things.” I really liked this view point. The concept of the sun being the eye of the world reminds me of the idea that stars are just the holes to heaven (Jack Johnson fans will catch that one). To keep this practical I feel this sutra is beneficial because it encourages us to open our minds to greater possibility. There is the potential that we can learn from the Yoga Sutras and experience for ourselves the liberation that the great sages have been trying to verbalize and describe for eons.